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Thankful for Chosen Family

STORY: Thanksgiving used to be a time when I would go home and see family. This tradition ended 6 years ago when I moved across the country in my mid-twenties and the distance between California and New York was too much for a long weekend.

When I moved to New York City I became involved with the a project to build an AIDS Memorial in the West Village. This led to a career pivot working for LGBT focused organizations and I then began acquiring a close network of friends from a diverse spectrum of the LGBT community.

Before this move and professional change I heard gay people talk about their “chosen family.” I thought I understood this concept, but in reality I did not. My initial understanding was riddled with judgment. “A ‘chosen family’ is something that lonely gay people make up to fill a void or to make a sentimental description for hanging out with their friends during holidays” I thought.

Today I’m ashamed of this initial judgement that stemmed from ignorance. Over the years this network of loving people has opened my worldview and deepened my understanding about what it means to be gay, something that my blood relatives — no matter how supportive they are — would never have been able to provide.

This Thanksgiving I am grateful for my east coast gay family. Thank you for all you’ve done. I won’t name you all, but will give a shout out for a photo opportunity of preparing food with loved ones. Thanks Eric Sawyer for being the best Fire Island house mother a boy could ever have. Thanks for showing me a less judgmental and more sex-positive side of life. And thanks for immediately inviting me to your Thanksgiving two days ago when you thought I didn’t have plans.


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